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9to5Mac founder Seth Weintraub tweeted this morning a suggestion that Microsoft was hitting all the laptop checkboxes of late – and that Apple will not.
Microsoft continues to hit the laptop checkboxes that Apple refuses to: Touchscreen, LTE, Cray battery life, etc
Will Apple respond? (No)
— Seth Weintraub (@llsethj) May 23, 2023
Others noted that Microsoft has held its third event this year, and second this month, while we still await the first Apple event of the year. Does this mean that Microsoft is leading the way in innovation at present, and Apple is being left behind – or is the Seattle-based company engaging in meaningless gimmickry … ?
The two companies clearly have fundamentally different philosophies when it comes to the laptop/tablet divide. Microsoft strongly believes that a single device can meet both needs, unveiling the latest Surface Pro model just today.
Apple’s position hasn’t changed since Steve Jobs used the analogy of a truck and a car. More and more people would only need a tablet – the car in this analogy – while those with more demanding needs would need a Mac – the truck.
Apple has for some time pushed the idea that the iPad can, for many, be a perfectly good alternative to a laptop, with Tim Cook particularly vocal on the topic.
The iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.
But the company has repeatedly ruled out the idea of a converged device, stating that it would be too compromised. In particular, the company has stuck by Steve’s line that a touchscreen computer is a terrible idea.
Phil Schiller said that Apple had got as far as testing touchscreen MacBooks, and not changed its mind.
Our instincts were that it didn’t, but, what the heck, we could be wrong—so our teams worked on that for a number of times over the years. We’ve absolutely come away with the belief that it isn’t the right thing to do. Our instincts were correct.
I must admit that I questioned this the first time I saw the original Surface Pro. Superficially, this seemed to be a device I’d wanted for a long time, offering a highly portable laptop while at the same time allowing you to detach the keyboard to use it as a tablet.
Then I picked one up – and instantly changed my mind. As a laptop, it was reasonably portable; as a tablet, it was way, way too heavy. That hasn’t changed much through its various incarnations.
Additionally, I agree with Apple that a user interface designed for use with a mouse or trackpad is a terrible UI for a touch device, and vice-versa. You either end up with ridiculously small touch targets, or you make the entire UI like a child’s toy to make it suitable for touch.
As a device, then, the Surface is to me a gimmick rather than a decent machine. The tablet functionality is something that wows you in the store but you’ll rarely use in practice. Try using one as an ebook reader or to view movies and you’ll very quickly want an iPad instead.
But that doesn’t mean that I entirely disagree with Seth. I do think that there is room for compromise here. My most-used mobile device is my 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and that has a Brydge keyboard attached to it much of the time. It’s a tablet, but I use it as a laptop.
That effectively means that I have something of the Surface Pro experience – only in a far more usable form. I’m using what is, with the keyboard attached, a touchscreen laptop in all but name. And when I don’t need the keyboard, I end up with a thin, light tablet.
Even in laptop mode, there are times when a touch interface is useful. Granted it’s horrible for editing, compared to a trackpad. Selecting a sentence on an iPad is a frankly frustrating experience. But it’s not a black-and-white issue for me. There are times when a trackpad does the job best, and times when touch is more convenient. I would, ideally, like to have the choice of both when using a MacBook.
So yes, I agree with all of Apple’s reasons for the stance it takes, and I’ll take a MacBook Pro plus iPad Pro over a Surface Pro every time, but I do think there’s scope for a MacBook that supports a trackpad as a primary pointing device and a touchscreen as a secondary one.
Then there’s the Surface Studio. Yes, it’s a niche product. Yes, it’s very expensive. No, it’s not for most people. But there’s no arguing with two things.
First, it’s a thing of beauty. It has been really well thought-through, and is as Apple-like in its styling and build quality as any device I’ve ever seen.
Second, for its target market – essentially anyone who spends much more time drawing than typing – it is a really great solution. For them, it’s not a gimmick, it’s an effective tool.
If that thing had an Apple logo on the back and ran macOS, it would set the graphics world alight.
And there’s one point I think few could dispute: iPad innovation seems to have badly stalled. Why on earth do we have a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with an icon density designed for a 4-inch iPhone? Seriously, why?
Why do we have iPad screen sizes clearly suitable for windowing where we’re limited to a clunky side-by-side layout and a handful of apps that support picture-in-picture?
In short, why hasn’t iPad software kept pace with the hardware? I get the superficial appeal of a single OS for everything from iPhone SE to 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but Apple needs to get over this. There is no reason at all why it can’t develop padOS to really let us use the iPad to its full potential.
And while I’m asking why-oh-why questions, there’s the laptop LTE issue Seth raised. I really, really wish Apple would include either a SIM slot or a virtual SIM in MacBooks.
Yes, I know I can use my iPhone as a hotspot, and I appreciate that for occasional use that’s a more affordable option than a separate plan. But it’s a clunky approach. If I want to do it for any length of time, it hammers my iPhone battery, so I end up connecting it with a cable to keep it charged.
For those who want to have an always-online Mac, and are willing to pay the data costs, an embedded SIM is a far, far better approach than using an iPhone as a hotspot. At least give us the choice, Apple.
So that’s my take: Microsoft isn’t leaving Apple behind. On the big question – separate platforms versus a converged device – Apple is right and Microsoft is wrong. But Microsoft is innovating in some ways that Apple isn’t, and the Cupertino company desperately needs to free the full potential of the iPad.
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From some recent news reports and analyst pronouncements, we could easily get the impression that the relatively weak Chinese economy poses a major threat to Apple. The argument doing the rounds is that China is where Apple is seeing most of its growth at present, and the Chinese economy is tanking.
It’s absolutely the case that the importance of China to Apple cannot be overstated. Apple does continue to grow its sales in both the Americas and Europe, of course, and there is no suggestion that this is showing any sign of slowing, despite a saturated smartphone market. But worldwide growth of 33% was dwarfed by that seen in China, as one recent graph vividly illustrated.
If Chinese demand for Apple products were indeed to weaken significantly, there is no doubt that this would be a major problem for Apple. But it seems to me that the issue is being substantially over-stated …
I’m very much a layman when it comes to economic matters, so perhaps I’m venturing into risky waters here and am about to get slapped down by those who know more than me about such things. And I do fully appreciate that Chinese share prices have been hit hard. But looking at the underlying numbers that have prompted such concern about the Chinese economy, they don’t seem anything like as bad as the share slide would suggest.
But then we look at the numbers. Economic growth in the first seven months of the year came in at 11.2%, versus an expectation of 11.5%. Factory output grew 6% instead of the forecast 6.6%. Retail sales grew 10.5%, missing expectations of … 10.6%.
So, all three metrics show that the economy is growing, just slightly slower than market predictions.
Against this, of course, is the fact that China today devalued its currency for the second time in two days – despite describing yesterday’s devaluation as a one-off correction. And while share prices may at times seem to bear only a tenuous relationship to reality, stock market slides definitely end up having real impacts on the economy.
But even the most pessimistic financial reporting I’ve seen appears to be suggesting only a slowing of growth in the Chinese economy, not economic armageddon. And Apple isn’t vulnerable to the economic performance of China as a whole, only that demographic which is in the market for iPhones and other Apple goodies – namely the upper middle class.
In 2012, the upper middle class represented 14% of China’s population. By 2023, it’s still forecasted to grow to 54%. Even if the economy grows at a slower pace than predicted, that would still seem to leave Apple with a large and rapidly growing market.
Sure, the currency devaluations will take their toll. Apple has two options: either raise prices in response, which is bound to have some impact on demand, or absorb the currency hit and end up with lower profits if it repatriates the income. But given the company’s investment in China, on both manufacturing and retail fronts, I’d imagine that a lot of Apple’s income from China never leaves the country’s borders.
But worst-case, we would appear to be talking about somewhat slower growth in either revenue or profitability. Given that Apple grew its business in Greater China by 112% in the past 12 months, some degree of slowing would seem to fall some way short of catastrophic.
So will Apple suffer to some extent if the growth in the Chinese economy takes further hits? Sure. But does the impression of doom one could glean from some recent coverage reflect the likely real-life effect? So far as I can see, it’s not even close.
Photos: Top MacX; middle TechnoBuffalo.
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Read more: The best two-factor authentication apps for AndroidHow does Microsoft Authenticator work? Setup for Microsoft accounts
Log in with your Microsoft account credentials in the Microsoft Authenticator app. This should be your first prompt upon opening the app for the first time. Select Personal account or Work or school account to log into your Microsoft account.
After a successful login, you must authenticate the sign-in with a code. You can have it sent via text, email, or another method.
Once you input the code, the app is linked to your Microsoft account, and you use it for no-password sign-ins. Next time you log in, enter your username and then input the code generated by the app.Setup for non-Microsoft accounts
This varies from website to website, but the general idea remains the same. It’s a fairly straightforward process. You can prepare the Microsoft Authenticator app for the task by tapping the three-dot menu button in the Microsoft Authenticator app and selecting the Add account option. Select the Other account option and prepare to follow the below steps.
Return to the website where it should ask you if you want two-factor authentication via text and email or with an application. Select the application option.
You will either see a QR code on your screen or a six-digit code. Use the Microsoft Authenticator app to scan the QR code.
Alternatively, the site may give you a code to enter instead of a QR code. Go back into the app and tap the Or Enter Code Manually option at the bottom of the page. Give your account a name first to know which one it is, and enter the code beneath it.
The Microsoft account setup is something you should only have to do a single time. Meanwhile, you can add whatever online accounts you want by repeating the non-Microsoft account steps on all of your other accounts.
From there, using the app is very easy. When prompted, you log in with your email or username and password on non-Microsoft websites and enter the six-digit code from the Microsoft Authenticator app. Microsoft websites need you to add your username and it’ll then ask you for a code from the app.
What else can Microsoft Authenticator do?
On Android, you can use the Microsoft Authenticator app to auto-fill passwords, addresses, and payment information. Open the Authenticator app, go to the relevant tab (passwords, addresses, payments), and save the necessary information. You can also save the information to the Authenticator app instead of typing it in on another website.
It will connect everything to your Microsoft account. You can use it to auto-fill passwords, payment information, and addresses on mobile and PC. It will do it automatically if you use the Microsoft Edge browser. To use this feature on Google Chrome, you will need to install the Microsoft Autofill Chrome extension. This feature is only available with the Android app.
The Microsoft Authenticator app is only available on mobile. However, if you sync your passwords and other credentials, you can use push notifications and biometric authentication on your phone to log in to apps and services quickly on your computer without needing a code every time.
You can use the cloud backup feature to make it easy to set up the app on a new device. You will need to sign in with your synced Microsoft account, and all the saved credentials should be available. Open the app, tap the three vertical dots at the top right corner, and open Settings. Enable Cloud backup.
You might not see the necessary approval push notification or pop-up when you expect it. If that happens, open the Microsoft Authenticator app, and the pop-up will then appear. This bug sometimes occurs when the app is updated but goes away with subsequent software updates.
If you juggle multiple accounts across various websites and maintain different passwords for each one, you’ll need a password manager.
Most web browsers today come with native password managers that store usernames and password combinations, keep them in encrypted databases, and autofill details on login pages.
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Google’s Chrome browser has a built-in password manager you can use to view all the passwords you store through the browser.
In this mini Chrome Password Manager review, we’ll walk you through how to use it and whether it’s everything you need to securely store all your login credentials.Chrome Password Manager: What It Is And How It Works
Google Chrome has a built-in, handy password manager that saves and autofills usernames and passwords for different accounts you use online.
Chrome Password Manager also generates random passwords when you visit a website for the first time, which is securely stored inside your Google Account, and syncs across Chrome’s desktop and mobile versions. This stops you from picking the same password for every website you visit, and prevents you from losing valuable data when there’s a security breach.How To Use Chrome Password Manager
You also can’t see or delete your passwords using the old method. To view and manage your passwords using Chrome Password Manager, use the steps below.View, Copy Or Delete Your Password In Chrome Password Manager
To manage your password in the Chrome Password Manager, use the following steps.
Enter your password.How To Enable/Disable Offer To Save Passwords And Auto Sign-In
The Offer to save passwords feature works in Android and Chrome, while the auto sign-in feature automatically signs into websites using stored credentials. If the latter is disabled, you’ll get a confirmation prompt each time before you sign into a website.Check Password Strength
Chrome Password Manager has a built-in tool known as Password Checkup, which keeps you safe online by checking your passwords’ strength and security. Many people still use common passwords like 123456 or ABC123 across multiple sites, and if these are involved in any breaches, their accounts become vulnerable.
With the Password Checkup tool, you’ll be notified when your passwords are compromised in a known security breach, if they’re being used on multiple sites so you can change things up, and if they’re too weak to be effective so you can create stronger passwords.
If this tool doesn’t work for you, there are several online password generators you can use to generate strong and secure passwords using random strings of characters.How To Turn Off Chrome Password Manager
Next, select All time (or the time range you want) from the drop-down menu next to Time range.Is Chrome Password Manager Enough?
Chrome Password Manager is a basic tool that Google uses to keep its users locked in their ecosystem so they won’t use other browsers or tools. It’s also a convenient way of remembering all your passwords, syncing them across your devices, and autofills details into forms on any computer.
However, it has a few downsides:
If you still prefer to use Chrome Password Manager, despite these flaws, there are a few things you can do for added security. These include adding a PIN code or password to your operating system as an added layer of defense, or getting two-factor authentication to use with your Google account.
Chrome Password Manager’s security isn’t the best there is, which is why using a dedicated third-party password manager is a lot better. It gives you more control over your passwords and reduces the chances of getting hacked faster with weak passwords.
It also remembers each unique password you create and stores them securely for retrieval whenever you need them. All you have to do is remember a single master password for the software, though there are some that only require you to use your fingerprint, Face ID or a pin code to gain access.
What is AirPlay?
The simplest way to think of AirPlay is as an Apple equivalent of Google Cast. Both are Wi-Fi-based, and just as you might use Cast to push Spotify to a smart speaker, or YouTube to a Chromecast, Apple devices can do similar things with AirPlay. In fact devices sometimes have access to both options, depending on the app and what you’re trying to push to.
AirPlay is focused on audio, video, and photo content, but it’s not limited to that. In some cases you can mirror a device screen regardless of what’s on it — it could be a website, a presentation, or any miscellaneous app. You’re typically stuck with onscreen interface elements though, so it’s best to avoid mirroring when other AirPlay options are available.
The simplest way to think of AirPlay is as an Apple equivalent of Google Cast.
The basic technology dates back well over a decade. Apple did give it a significant overhaul with AirPlay 2, however, which was launched in 2023. That enabled things like multi-room audio, HomeKit integration, Siri voice commands, and a Control Center interface.
See also: Everything you need to know about Apple HomeKit
These days, there are fewer and fewer limits on targets for AirPlay.
In the past few years, Apple has worked with companies like Sony, Samsung, LG, Roku, and Vizio to put AirPlay on TVs. The result is not just easier casting, but the potential for integration into HomeKit scenes and automations. A “Movie Night” scene, for example, might turn on your TV, close the blinds, and dim the lights in one fell swoop. You do, of course, need every link in the chain to be HomeKit-compatible.
You can pair a couple of HomePods with an Apple TV as default audio output. This option doesn’t extend to third-party AirPlay speakers, unfortunately. Apple could fix this in the future, as long as it can solve audio-video sync. One device type that doesn’t support seamless AirPlay is Windows computers, but there is a workaround for mirroring iPhones on Windows, so all hope is not lost.
Related: The best smart speakers
How do you control AirPlay?
In many cases, the process of using AirPlay is as simple as launching a music, video, or photo app on your Apple device, then tapping on the AirPlay icon — this takes the form of a rectangle or concentric rings, either of which is split by a solid triangle. If there are any compatible outputs within Wi-Fi range, they’ll appear in a list. Select a target device to start streaming. A notable exception is Spotify, which requires tapping on the Spotify Connect button and then selecting AirPlay or Bluetooth.
It’s usually possible to limit AirPlay access on a target device without disabling it entirely. For example, on an Apple TV, you can use the Settings app to specify one of three main options:
Everyone: As long someone is in Wi-Fi range, they can stream to your device. Avoid this, because even well-meaning people can accidentally hijack your screen, especially if you use a common device name like “Living Room” or “Apple TV.”
Anyone on the Same Network: Source devices must be connected to your Wi-Fi router. This is the best choice for most home users, since anyone you’d want streaming is probably already logged into your Wi-Fi.
Only People Sharing This Home: This requires adding every potential device to Home Sharing via Music or Videos settings in iOS, iTunes for Windows, and/or System Preferences on a Mac. Each device will need to be signed in to a person’s Apple ID.
Require Password: Use this only if you’re worried about someone in your home abusing AirPlay, or you’re in an office setting where access has to be limited yet available to anyone giving a presentation.
Also Allow Nearby to AirPlay: Generally speaking, this should be left off. This allows devices within Bluetooth range to establish an ad hoc Wi-Fi connection. However, you might try it if you’re hosting a party and want guests to control media.
Both your source and target devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network for screen mirroring. With that qualifier in mind, though, the process is as simple as opening Control Center on any Apple device, selecting Screen Mirroring, then choosing a Mac, Apple TV, or compatible third-party TV. You may be prompted to enter a passcode displayed on the target device.
Whenever you’re done, go back to the Control Center, tap Screen Mirroring, then Stop Mirroring. If you’re mirroring to an Apple TV, you can tap the Menu button on your Siri Remote.
“Hey Siri, play this on the [room name] TV.” Room names must be assigned through the Apple Home app.
“Hey Siri, play this on [device name].” This will work even if you haven’t assigned rooms, but it can be problematic if you have a complex device name, or multiple devices with similar names.
Similar options exist for audio:
“Hey Siri, play this everywhere.” This means all of the AirPlay-enabled devices in your HomeKit home.
“Hey Siri, move this music to the [room name].”
“Hey Siri, stop playing music in the [room name].”
If you think a phrase should work, try experimenting with it. Apple tries to account for all contingencies, and periodically updates Siri with new commands.
Continue: The best Siri commands for productivity, information, and more
Frequently asked questions
Typically, the only reason to use one or the other is device support — you can’t Cast to an Apple TV for instance, and you can’t AirPlay to a Nest Hub. There shouldn’t be a noticeable difference in audio or video quality.
When both options are available, it might make sense to use AirPlay if you want to use Siri voice commands and/or link with other AirPlay/HomeKit devices. There are similar options with Google Cast, but of course they require devices with Google Assistant.
There’s no official answer to this one, but Apple generally prefers maximum control over its platforms, and the alternative would be supporting a standard from Google (a chief rival) or the platform-neutral Miracast. In theory, using AirPlay lets it optimize audio and video for its operating systems and hardware.
Apple has created a credit card. For people who mainly think of Apple as a computer (or phone) company, this might be a surprise. However, Apple isn’t so much a technology company as it is a brand that sells a particular viewpoint on how things should look, feel and work. So, in principle, an Apple credit card isn’t all that strange. Apple believes they’ve reinvented the traditional credit card but is it a good deal in real life?
We took a hard look at what the Apple credit card offers on paper and scoured sites like Reddit and social media to get a feel for the day-to-day troubles people have run into using this Titanium card.
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So if you’re tempted to get in on the shiny new (card-shaped) thing from Apple, read this first to make sure you know what you’re in for.Apple Credit Card: What’s the Deal?
Why should anyone want to have an Apple credit card instead of a traditional card from established banking institutions? There are a few core value propositions the Apple credit card brings to the table that can be summarized as follow:
Total integration and dependence on iPhone
Integration with Apple Pay
Clear and intuitive dashboard for payments and interest
Very favorable interest rates (if you can get them)
Cashback (with higher rates for Apple and partners)
Interest-free terms on Apple devices
Apart from that, the physical card itself is a typical Apple piece of engineering. Minimalist and made from titanium, the card is unlikely to ever wear out. However, in this article, we don’t care about the physical card, but rather the deal as a whole. So let’s discuss these value propositions in more detail.iPhone Integration (For Better or Worse)
One unique aspect of the Apple credit card is its reliance on the iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can’t get an Apple credit card.
The card itself is just an extension of a digital wallet system that exists on your phone. It has no credit card number on it and is virtually blank. The physical card essentially gives you a way to pay if Apple Pay is not available. This means getting 1% cash back instead of 2%. Sure, the titanium card is gorgeous and cool, but it’s not the point at all.The Interest Advantage of the Apple Credit Card
Apple says that their card is different since it incentivizes you to pay less interest. This seems a little counterintuitive because credit card companies make money from the interest you pay on your borrowed credit.
Apple has gone out of its way to show you exactly when and how to pay to avoid interest on your outstanding balance. You also only pay for the portion of the balance you elect not to pay. This isn’t all that different from how most credit cards work. If you borrow money from a credit card over short periods and pay it back within a certain time frame you don’t accrue any interest.
The main difference here is Apple shows you the numbers that let you minimize interest payments, rather than keeping those hidden out of sight.
The Apple credit card is notable for more than just how transparent it makes interest calculations. Apple is also offering some of the lowest interest rates in the market for a cashback credit card.
While your potential interest rates are pretty low overall, how close you get to the lowest possible interest rate will depend on your credit rating and the algorithm that Apple uses to determine card limits and interest rates.Cashback Rewards
Speaking of cashback rewards, Apple has a rather unbalanced solution in place. If you buy Apple products or make Apple Pay purchases from partners, the cashback rewards are substantial. If you buy things outside of this partner network, there are cards out there that offer better returns on average.
So whether the Apple credit card is a good deal strongly depends on whether you’re a frequent Apple customer, use Apple Pay regularly, or shop at retailers who are part of their partner network.The Apple Gadget Advantage
If we’re being honest, one of the main reasons that Apple likely came up with their credit card is so that they can sell more Apple stuff to people. Since you need to own an iPhone to have the card, only people who are already in their ecosystem will qualify.
Apple offers to sell you Apple products using their card at no interest at all. In other words, you’re getting your Apple gadgets at the cash price, but on a payment plan. Not all products are eligible and the maximum repayment period varies, with 24 months being the longest possible.The Goldman Sachs Connection
While the card is boldly emblazoned with the iconic Apple logo, you’re probably not surprised to hear that Apple hasn’t become a completely independent financial institution. Their card is backed by Goldman Sachs.
While there’s nothing wrong in principle with this move, anyone who is considering applying for their card should know who they are doing business with. There have been stories in the media raising privacy concerns and potential issues of discrimination by algorithms when it comes to determining interest rates.
If you aren’t happy with how Goldman Sachs does business, then you won’t be happy to own an Apple credit card.Who Is The Apple Credit Card Good For?
Let’s get the main issue out of the way first. If you aren’t already an iPhone user or someone who’s going to be sticking with the iPhone and the Apple ecosystem over the long term, the Apple card simply isn’t worth it. Sure, it has no annual fee, but in reality, the cheapest iPhone costs $400. So make of that what you will.
Since you’d have to first invest in an iPhone, which isn’t cheap, the rewards don’t justify it. If you’re looking for a way to get your Apple fix for the best prices, the card becomes much more attractive. The interest-free payment plans on Apple gadgets are an amazing offer. You also get a further 3% cashback on repayments towards the device.
The same goes for Apple Pay purchases. If you’re already using Apple Pay in your daily life, then the card offers great benefits. If no one in your usual selection of retailers offers it, there’s little reason to use the Apple card.
Another issue that might be a problem for many people is the fact that Apple does not allow for more than one person to be authorized to use the card. So if you wanted a second card for a spouse or child, you’re out of luck without that person buying their own iPhone and applying for their own Apple credit card.
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